President Muhammadu Buhari, the Attorney-General of the Federation, Mr. Abubakar Malami, and the Senate yesterday failed to appear in a suit challenging the appointment of Justice Tanko Muhammad as the substantive Chief Justice of Nigeria at the Abuja division of the Federal High Court.
Justice Inyang Ekwo had, on May 3, ordered all the defendants in the suit, including Buhari, the AGF and the Senate, to appear in court yesterday and show cause why the plaintiff’s request for a restraining order against the appointment of Muhammed as a substantive Chief Justice of Nigeria should not be granted.
However, when the case came up yesterday, the three defendants were absent and also failed to send legal representatives to the court.
But counsel to the plaintiff, Malcom Omirhobo, informed the court that hearing notices had been served on all the defendants, except the third defendant, by the court’s bailiff.
Those that were present in court yesterday were the National Judicial Council (NJC), the Federal Judicial Service Commission (FJSC) and Muhammad.
While Muhammad sent his lawyer, A.O. Ajana, who announced his appearance in protest, Elizabeth Jonathan represented the NJC, while Sani Sule represented the FJSC.
Also absent in court through legal representation was the Federal Government which was listed as the fourth defendant.
The judge, who further adjourned proceedings to June 3, ordered that hearing notices be served on all the parties that were absent from yesterday’s proceedings.
In the substantive suit that was filed in April, the plaintiff, the Board of Incorporated Trustees of Malcolm Omirhobo Foundation alleged that Muhammad made himself available as a tool that was used in the violation of the constitution, especially with regard to the “illegal” removal of Justice Walter Onnoghen as the CJN.
In an ex-parte motion filed on April 15, the plaintiff asked the court to stop Muhammad’s appointment as CJN pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice filed by the foundation.
The plaintiff also asked for an order of interim injunction restraining the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (7th defendant) from confirming the appointment of Muhammad as CJN pending the determination of the substantive suit challenging his appointment.